Mahalaya Amavasya – October 4th, 2013
If you do not have the time to read the entire article you can see the following YouTube video which is titled Mahalaya Amavasya. It is a 10 minute video. Also watch Part 2 of the video without fail as the exact procedure is given in it.
Who should do the Mahalaya Amavasya Ritual?
Pitru Paksha – Meaning
Pitru Paksha is the Sanskrit word that literally means the “fortnight of the ancestors”. Pitru = ancestors and Paksha = Fortnight. Pitru Paksha is therefore a 15 lunar day period during which the Hindus pay homage to their ancestors mainly through food offerings.
This period begins with the full moon day (Poornima) that occurs immediately after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival and ending with the new moon day (Amavasys) known as Sarvapitri Amavasya or Mahalaya Amavasya.
During the year 2013, Pitru Paksha starts on September-20 and ends on October-4
The worship of our ancestors consists of:
1. Tharpanam i.e., offering food to the departed souls (ancestors)
2. Annadhaanam i.e., feeding the poor.
The Tharpanam is done at sunrise on all 15 days of the ancestor fortnight from the first day onward. Along with this one must also give food, clothes, footwear, cooking utensils to poor people (every day of this 15 day period) – at least one packet of food to some poor person or a pilgrim. Without such offerings the worship of ancestors is incomplete.
Karunya Tarpanam during the Pitru Paksha
During these 15 days of the Mahalaya Paksha, but especially on the Mahalaya Amavasya day, offer tharpanam pooja not just to your ancestors, but also to plants, trees, animals, birds, insects and all living things that have been sacrificed for your sake. This is called karunya tharpanam as an act of gratitude to these beings.
Feeding animals, birds, insects and other creatures is a daily duty, but it is particularly important during the ancestor fortnight. Feeding the cows and crows is a must. Visit at least one of the many Pitru Mukti (ancestor salvation) places like Kasi, Rameswaram, Gaya, Prayag (Allahabad), Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Mantralayam, SriSailam, Papanasam, Thiruvaiyaru etc.
How to find the best Shraadh time?
Shraadh is to be done in Aparaanha kaal. Other times are not that good for Shraadh. Saayankaal and onwards is to be rejected. Divide the length of day into 5 equal parts. The 4th part is the best period for Shraadh ritual. Here we have assumed sunrise is at 6 a.m. and sunset is at 6 p.m.):
1. Praatha – 06:00 to 08:24 2. Sanghava – 08:25 to 10:48
3. Maadhyaanha – 10:49 to 13:12 4. Aparaanha – 13:13 to 15:36
5. Saayankaal – 15:37 to 18:00
The Annual 15 Moons of Pitru Paksha.
The Pitru Paksha ritual spans from the 1st Moon (immediately after Poornima) until the Amavasya and each day is ruled by a specific Tithi of the Moon (Lunar days). The benefits of doing tarpanam on the specific moon days are given in the in the chart below:
Lunar days or Tithi Benefits of Specific Lunar days Tarpanam
01. Prathamai Thithi Gives wealth
02. Dvithiyai Thithi Grants the continuation of lineage
03. Thrithiyai Thithi Gives business prosperity
04. Chathurthi Thithi Gives ability to overpower enemies
05. Panchami Thithi Grants prosperity
06. Sashti Thithi Grants good reputation
07. Sapthami Thithi Secures inner strength and spirituality
08. Ashtami Thithi Blesses with intelligence
09. Navami Thithi Receive support from women folk
10. Dasami Thithi Grants success in your profession
11. Ekadasi Thithi Grants prosperity and intelligence to your children
12. Dwadasi Thithi For continuation of lineage and success through education
13.Trayodasi Thithi Buy own vehicles
14. Chathurdasi Thithi Peace and longevity
15. Amavasya Thithi
Sarvapitri Amavasya If you miss any of the above days, this Amavasya is mandatoryand your last chance this year. This is also an essential day for doing Tarpanam for those who died due to weapons or accidents. During this day, the known and unknown souls that have departed during the last 30 years are respected like God.
Sage Agastya’s Treatise on Pitru – Paksha Rituals (Mahalaaya Shraadh)
Sage Agastya says that not only the sons but everyone must pay respects to their ancestors. The hindus believe that 15 days in a year our ancestors visit us every day from sunrise to sunset in hope of receiving offerings from us. Offerings of water & sesame seeds, quenches their hunger & thirst and in return for this, they shower multitude blessings on us. Also the doors of Vishnu-Lok remain open for all Pitrus for 15 days in a year during Pitru-Paksh.
It is said that the Pitrus can enter Vishnu-Lok either based on their individual good karma or from a request by their descendants. By doing the Shraadh ritual the descendants send a request to allow their ancestors to enter Vishnu-Lok. In case our ancestors have already attained Vishu-Lok owing to their own good karma then our prayers for them will take them to higher realms. It is precisely for this reason that our ancestors line up in hope & expectation during the 15 day phase of Pitru-Paksh.
So if you deem ancestors to be unimportant and go about your daily jobs unconcerned, they leave in disappointment & dejection after waiting for you for 15days. This dejection & disappointment of ancestors translates into “curses” which manifests as obstacles & hurdles in daily life leading to suffering. On the other hand if you choose to welcome, honor & bid them farewell with your offerings then it translates into “blessings”. “Ancestors’ blessings” is to be thought as help & luck that you receive everyday. .
How to go about doing the Pitru Paksh Ritual?
There are 2 ways to do it. One is that you can request a purohit to help you out. Or you may choose to do it by yourself. In case you want to do it by yoursefl find a quiet corner of a room or balcony where you can sit down facing East. You will need:
1 A dharba grass mat to sit on
2 Water in a metal bowl
3 A small bowl of black sesame seeds (til) for men and white for women.
4 A plate into which you can release water
5 The list of mantras that is recommended by Sage Agastya. They are: 1.Pitru-Gayatri, 2.Avaahanam Mantra, 3.Pitru-Mantra and 4.Gayatri-Mantra.
Pitru Gayatri Mantra
Pitru Gayatri Mantra is chanted 11 times as an act of invitation of your Pitrus in the spirit world, so that their attention turns towards you.You may not know who your Pitrus (ancestors) are but when you begin to chant the Pitru-Gayatri mantra you will start feeling the vibrations.
You should pray thus. “All ancestors from my father’s side, all ancestors from my mother’s side, all ancestors from the side of my spouse, all ancestors known and unknown to me, all Pitrus who may have no descendants, all Pitrus whose descendants may have forgotten them, all friends who have passed into the spirit world, the souls of all animals that gave up their bodies feeding me & my family, directly or indirectly, may you all please turn your kind attention towards me”.
Now chant the Pitru-Gayatri mantra (11 times in succession):-
Pitru Gayatri: “Om Pitru Ganaaya Vidmahe Jagat Dhaariney Dheemahi Thanno Pitro Prachodayaat.”
By the time Pitru-Gayatri is uttered, it is believed that you have the attention of your Pitrus. So you may now request them to accept your offering of black sesame seeds & water. This request is made by chanting the Avaahanam Mantra (3 times in succession):-
Avaahanam Mantra: “Om Aagachhantu Me Pitru Emam Grihanantu Jalaanjalim.”
The meaning of the above mantra is “I wholeheartedly invite you into my home to accept my offering of sesame seeds & water to quench your hunger & thirst”. Then you chant the Pitru-Mantra (3 times in succession).
Pitru Mantra: “Om Sarva Pitru Devaaya Namaha… Triptayaamidam Tilodaham – Va – Jalaanjalim… Tasmai Swadhaa Namaha… Tasmai Swadhaa Namaha… Tasmai Swadhaa Namaha… Tasmai Swadhaa Namaha…”
Take black sesame seeds in yout right hand. While chanting Pitru Mantra, pour water over the sesame seeds into the plate. Water has to flow in between your thumb & index finger and not from the front of your palm flowing over other fingers. The water that will flow between thumb & index finger will flow towards South direction as you are facing East. The direction of Pitrus is South. As we have to sit facing the east this is the best way to do it.
If you have anything else to tell your Pitrus you may do so now. Finally you may request them to proceed to Vishnu-Lok, the gates of which you have desired open by your prayers and good wishes. In the end you may chant the Gayatri Mantra (11 times in succession) during which time your Pitrus will depart happily.
Gayatri Mantra : “Om Bhur Bhavah Swaahaa Tat Savitru Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Deemahi, Dheeyo Yonahah Prachodayaat”.
In the end you will experience an amazing peace and happiness for having completed one of your main duties in life.
It is said that the departed souls request Lord Maha Vishnu to grant them permission to visit their descendants on earth. Vishnu allows them to be with them in His month of Purattasi during the 15 long days of the Mahalaya paksha.